A Marathon Takes More Than Just Lots of Running

Guest Blogger Libby and friend Corina at the North Texas Runners hilly long run on Saturday.

On my first 20-miler a week ago, I discovered that the secret to enjoying this first marathon rested in more than just running lots and lots of miles. My upper abdominals, my oblique abs, my glutes – all these muscles were on fire in the late miles of this training run. My will, my drive, and my endurance had returned since having a baby and major surgery (C-section) a little over 5 months ago, but physically, my body just couldn’t quite keep up with what I was asking it to do.

The Monday after that long run, I called up the gym that I have given money to for years and yet never go (my own fault) and told them I needed someone to kick my butt for the next 10 weeks until race day. I met with one of their heads of the Personal Training department and got set up with one of their upper levels of trainers. Yes, I could have taken just any trainer, but a more experienced personal trainer was more likely to adapt their exercise prescription to my specific, more unusual circumstances of a distance runner with a deadline for performance who is coming back from still recent surgery and the effects of 9 months of stretching my abdomen with a baby inside and the effect of the hormones on all my muscles.

So I started with the new trainer Saturday morning after a hilly 10.3-mile long run with the North Texas Runners club. Boy, was I going to be sore the next day! The trainer, Jeff, did a full assessment, testing me out with different strength, balance, and range of motion exercises. I got a lot of “that’s interesting” reactions as we went along. LOL, way to rephrase “that’s not good”. It actually was interesting though because it’s still kinda unusual to see a woman still this close to when she had a surgery (C-section 5 1/2 months ago) trying to do the kind of endurance work I’m doing. My abs are strong… For an average mom and for someone with a recent abdominal surgery. But for a distance runner, not strong enough.

Two times he said, “I’m still amazed that you’ve been able to do what you’re doing.” The second time he added, “And you’ve done this for 5 years without injury. This combo of lack of strength and balance could lead lot of people to lots of injuries for the number of miles you run.” And I responded that I spend a lot of time on health maintenance and injury protection and I do a much pretty job of running easy than some of those injured runners. I wish a lot more runners would do the same.

So we have a lot of work ahead of us. But at 3 times a week, I ought to be a lot stronger in time to take on the marathon. Of course, it also means that I’ll be non-stop sore somewhere in my body for the next 10 weeks – oh, joy!

Libby Jones has been running for 5 years, is a self-described “serial half-marathoner”, but has never attempted the marathon distance. She is also an active part of the Dallas-Fort Worth running community.  She is the Founder and Race Director of the New Year’s Day Half Marathon in Allen, Texas; the Executive Race Director for Heels and Hills, a non-profit geared towards getting women fit and active; the North Texas State Representative for the Road Runners Club of America; past Dallas Running Club President & 2008 RRCA Scott Hamilton National Outstanding Club President Award Winner; and an RRCA-certified running coach. She’s also a wife to Steve and a mother to Marissa (3 yrs) and Sophie (3 1/2 months).  Read her blog “The Active Joe” and follow her on Twitter @libbyruns

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